via Mutasa’s awakening? – The Zimbabwean 25 February 2015
“Mr/Comrade” Didymus Mutasa (does anyone, even himself worry about how you address him?), insists that whatever the cabal running ZANU (PF) now says, he is still a member of “the true ZANU (PF)”.
When he found himself in the front line of what some commentators called “the battle for the soul of ZANU (PF)”, I felt some sympathy for him and hoped we might be seeing a revival of the Didymus who chaired the original Cold Comfort Farm when it was struggling for survival against the Smith regime.
The story got more complicated as I reflected on the changes in all our images of the party over the past 50 years.
Each person’s perceptions developed at a different pace, so when Didymus declared his expulsion from the party was unconstitutional and that he was still a member of “the true ZANU (PF)”, his words conjured up the image I and those around me had of the party during the war. The party then caught our imagination and inspired our loyalty, but I have come now to see that even at that time it was something of a mirage which we created for ourselves; we wanted a heroic cause, and so we created its image. In fact, by the mid 1970s the party was already subordinate to its military wing.
I was somewhat disappointed to hear Didymus this month identifying the “true ZANU (PF)’ as the party he held a senior position in two months ago, but then I recall that he looked like a loyal servant of the military command model of the party as early as 1978, when he moved from Britain to Mozambique. In fact, at the time, that move was seen as a stage in his indoctrination, going to live the pure spirit of the party, just as a convert to fundamentalist Islam might seek to spend time living in the purer spiritual atmosphere of the Arabian desert.
We comfortable people pursuing our own education or careers while giving generously of our time and maybe money to supporting the struggle had absorbed an image of our party as something like the European social democratic parties whose members gave their support to ZANU as to comrades in the world-wide struggle for democracy and economic justice.
I see now that we did accept certain constraints imposed by military discipline on a movement committed to the armed struggle, but even when another friend who became a minister after 1980 said to me about 1977: “We have to ensure that when we gain power, we never let it be taken from us” I still managed to persuade myself that the military model of authority was one that would soften once we were electing our own government.
After all, our leaders did proclaim their adherence to socialism, which is the opposite of military dictatorship, isn’t it? And if your socialism was of the marxist variety, didn’t Karl Marx himself predict the withering away of the state, which must mean a freeing of our minds from the thought control implicit in the military command model?
So it dawned slowly on me, faster than for some and slower than others, that Freedom never arrived for her wedding with Independence. Or that there was more socialism in ZAPU, whose war vets sank their demob pay into farms and other co-operative enterprises where the workers controlled the means of production.
Living in Harare, it was hard to grasp the horrors of Gukurahundi. But when Chen Chimutengwende, whose record they all knew, became an MP, I began to wake up from my dreams.
Willowgate revealed the rot which flourishes when power all comes from the top down. Then came ESAP, when ZANU (PF) shed their socialism as easily as they would an old jacket, showing it was only skin deep sloganising.
Back to friend Didymus; has he made the first step toward defending everyone’s rights, not just his own? If so, I can hope he may go further. Experiencing oppression teaches one a lot.